Sarah de Guzman

Master of Engineering

Sarah De Guzman completed her Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in July 2017 and expects to complete her Master’s in July 2019. Her research focus has been concerned with the electro-mechanical behavior of wool and a range of synthetic materials to gain an understanding of their dielectric properties. Her work also covered the use of electronic textiles (e-textiles) as sensors and connectors for wearable technology applications.

Her research support and supervisory staff at AUT were Dr Andrew Lowe (Supervisor), Dr Frances Joseph (Project Supervisor), Gordon Fraser (Senior Technician Textile and Design Lab) and Stephen Hartley (Electrical Technician). Sarah engaged with the Textile and Design Lab to create a range of knitted conductive fabrics required for her practical work. She also sought advice from the lab as to overseas sources of speciality yarns and other materials.

During the course of her research, Sarah teamed up with iconic New Zealand children’s footwear brand, Bobux, and formed part of the team that went on to become a finalist in the Callaghan Innovation sponsored C Prize, which in 2017, focused on research and innovation in the wearable technologies sector.

Since completing her undergraduate degree, she undertook some contract research work within the university that involved the integration of smart textiles in various applications including force mats for athletes as well as continuing her working relationship with Bobux.

Having been introduced to the concept of soft conductive materials by her supervisor, Sarah recognized that the use of such materials would enable her to apply them to products that required varying shapes and degrees of conformity. ‘The Textile and Design Lab made this happen by producing functional and shaped knitted pieces, which I used for my sensors’, she says. ‘The lab helped me to recognize that just because something is knitted, it doesn’t necessarily have to be fashion related. The lab also helped me to think differently in terms of how different yarn combinations affect the physical structure, which in turn affect the electro-mechanical behavior of these fabrics’, she adds.

Knitted conductive sensors for insertion into Sarah’s force mat

Assembly of prototype force mat components

Early prototype shoe with integrated knitted sensors